Xiu Xiu is keeping post-punk alive. The bass-heroics and monotonous vocals of bands like Interpol may keep the sound awake, but the reckless experimentalism is all but dead in the neo-post punk scene. As one of the more popular and prolific experimental artists out there, Xiu Xiu captures that mindset almost perfectly, mixing original instrumentation and arrangements with highly confrontational and personal lyrics. The Air Force, their fifth and most accessible album, could act as a sort of greatest-hits compilation. “Boy Soprano,” the lead single, combines abrasive keyboard lines and flutes for a harsh effect, and the standout “The Pineapple vs. The Watermelon” makes use of a short guitar motif repeated over atmospherics and otherworldly percussion.The lyrical content also maintains many of the controversial themes present on their last albums. Jamie Stewart, the songwriter, has been known to write some of the more disquieting songs of the modern era; on this album he writes of sadomasochism, suicide and gender confusion, among other things. His dynamic vocals only add to the uncomfortable mood, and he can often be found whispering and screaming in the same line. Xiu Xiu would be almost unbearably pretentious if it wasn’t so obvious that Stewart means every word he says. This is music that cannot be taken in one sitting, and the easily offended need not apply. Anyone who is looking to head to the fringes of music, though, should seek this out immediately.